Middle East

Egypt sets presidential election rules

Banner reading "Rule of the People" at a demonstration in Tahrir Square (25 January 2012)
Image caption Activists want the ruling generals to hand over power immediately

Egypt's governing military council has set out the rules for the country's first presidential election since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

The rules stipulate that candidates have to be born in Egypt to Egyptian parents, not be dual nationals, and not be married to a foreigner.

Candidates must also be endorsed by at least 30 MPs or 30,000 eligible voters.

No date has yet been set for the poll, but the military council has promised it will be held by the end of June.

A spokesman for a civilian body that advises the generals has said that the military is considering ways of speeding up the transition to civilian rule.

Mohammed al-Kholi said the advisory group had proposed shortening the time set aside for a 100-member panel to write Egypt's new constitution, which might allow the election to be brought forward to May.

"This is an effort exerted to end the tension in the streets," he told the Associated Press on Monday.

New parliament

Last week, activists marking the first anniversary of the uprising reiterated their call for the generals to hand over power immediately, accusing them of mishandling the transition and committing human rights abuses.

The activists want a committee to be formed by the newly elected lower house of parliament, the People's Assembly, to oversee the presidential election, or for a temporary president to serve until the new constitution is drafted.

"Is it really what we need, a shorter period for writing the constitution?" asked Ziad al-Ulaimi, a youth leader and new MP.

The presidential election law was published in the official Egyptian Gazette on Monday, five days after the People's Assembly held its inaugural session.

Islamist groups won a majority of the seats in the lower house, prompting many liberal and secular Egyptians to say they feared the Muslim Brotherhood and the military council would find a way to share power.

They believe the military may be allowed to maintain its privileges and perhaps be given a veto of foreign and defence policy, while the Brotherhood may secure greater control over Egyptian society.

Meanwhile, Egyptians have been voting in the first stage of elections for the largely advisory upper house of parliament, the Shoura Council. Turnout was low in the 13 provinces where polling took place on Sunday and Monday. A second stage will take place on 14 and 15 February.